Gov’t signs MOU to fast-track technology transfer, patents at UPR
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish an alliance to accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of intellectual property produced at the University of Puerto Rico.
The MOU unites the UPR, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce.
“From my experience as a scientist I recognize the importance of promoting such agreements and establishing processes that promote the knowledge economy,” Rosselló said.
“Our University is a pool of talent in many disciplines and it is time to start promoting it to add funds and give it the recognition it deserves as the foremost institution of higher education in Puerto Rico,” he added.
Meanwhile, Darrel Hillman-Barrera, interim president of the UPR, explained that the MOU “seeks to make possible an agile technology transfer and commercialization of intellectual property produced at the UPR, while allowing the university receive royalties that will generate new income.”
Over the past five years, the UPR has been granted 20 patents. At present, there are 41 applications before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, officials said.
However, the UPR has only one license, along with the of the University of Georgia Research Foundation, for which it generates $20,000 annually.
Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo said the agreement will allow the Trust’s Office of Technology Transfer to manage this process and the commercialization of discoveries and inventions generated at the UPR.
“This includes existing patents and new inventions that are developed using Science Trust grants,” Crespo said.
“This agreement is aligned with our mission, to invest, to facilitate and develop the skills to advance Puerto Rico’s economy and the welfare of its citizens through companies based on innovation, science, technology, as well as its industrial base,” Crespo said.
As a result of the ongoing research activity at the UPR, there are discoveries and inventions by either faculty or students, said Walter Alomar-Jiménez, chairman of the UPR’s Governing board.
“As part of this effort, they and the University will see the fruit of their labor and will have new opportunities through sponsorship of new projects and research. It is a move that should have been done long ago,” he said.
Meanwhile, Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy stressed the importance of this initiative to position Puerto Rico globally as an opportunities provider in the field of research and development and technology transfer, as well as the creation of new jobs, through university-based companies.
“Developing new patents enables innovative companies, which in turn produce new funding partnerships. This further enhances the name of the UPR and adds international prestige,” said Laboy.
Hillman-Barrera added that the initiative reinforces student recruitment and retention.
“Federal agencies favor faculties that participate in research projects which, in turn, generate federally funded inventions,” he said.